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Memusi: I was up against a strong Jubilee tide

Elijah Memusi, the new MP for Kajiado Central, was a first-time loser in the 2013 General Election, coming third.

He has now won it at the second try against a man who was contesting it for the fourth time.

On his birthday, he beat Patrick Tutui of Jubilee Alliance Party by 500 votes, collecting 16008 against his opponent’s 15508.

Despite the tight race, Mr Memusi said he felt he had also beaten several odds. Here was a man contesting against an opponent sponsored by the ruling party.

“This victory demonstrates that JAP is a stillbirth. It can never be imposed on the people,” Memusi said after provisional results indicated he had won. “I thank my supporters for sticking with me and praying for me.”

Memusi had initially sought the JAP ticket but lost to Tutui before he defected to ODM. He still feels bitter about it, saying his opponent was forced on the people.

“We thank God because Kajiado Central has chosen without being intimidated, without looking at the money and without looking at the powers that be,” he said, throwing an indirect jab at the Jubilee party.

Even Kajiado Governor Davide Ole Nkedianye, elected on an ODM ticket, suggested there were big forces against ODM.

MAJOR CAMPAIGNS

“There is no force that can defeat the will of the people. The people of Kajiado Central have shown that even when thousands of campaign cars coming from Nairobi, it is what people want that will prevail,” he told a crowd after the results were announced.

Tutui had dismissed these allegations saying he was a democrat who accepts people’s verdict.

“I have lost before and therefore I have no problem about accepting defeat,”he told reporters after voting at Ilbissil Township Primary School.

Memusi was up against Tutui who had lost three times before to the then MP Joseph Nkaissery. Tutui is 53 while Memusi is 37 and was seeking to be the only MP on ODM in a county where all other legislators are in the Jubilee coalition.

With the backing of the ruling party, Tutui had an edge for the 39,545 registered voters. President Kenyatta campaigned for him once. Deputy President Kajiado came here three times. Jubilee had six major campaigns here.

Having sensed disadvantaged, Memusi says he called on the support of ODM and CORD leaders Raila Odinga, Kalonzo Musyoka and Moses Wetangula for help.

“The campaign was grueling. It was hard. If you knew me earlier on, a month ago, you would see that I have lost some weight,” he said.

“We have not been sleeping. We have not been eating. We would campaign twenty-four hours. We get a rest of just two hours a day.”

ABNORMAL ELECTIONS

When the results of this tightly fought race were announced on Tuesday morning, Memusi who had been at the tallying centre for six hours acknowledged he doubted he would  win it.

“I was confident but I had my doubts,” he told reporters after receiving his victory certificate at the tallying centre in Maasai Technical Training Institute.

“In politics you never know until you really see the results of each polling station. But in this campaign, I have been putting God first and I had faith that God will deliver victory.”

This was an abnormal election. With 102 polling stations in 87 polling centres around the vast and semi-arid constituency, no candidate was sure who would win.

Street talk had indicated that Memusi was neck-and-neck with Patrick Tutui of the Jubilee Alliance Party (JAP). It came to pass. The results aped a marathon.

The top contenders never felt secure even when they led by a big margin. Only Kuntai Nkashuma, the independent candidate was sure of losing. He got stuck at 100 votes throughout.

For most parts, the difference between the Memusi and Tutui was 11 votes; it rose to 206 before dropping to 30. They were exchanging leads from time to time. At 38 stations, Tutui appeared to widen the gap to the neighbourhoods of 300.

It would be clipped immediately. Memusi stuck his eyes to the giant screen. He remained so for hours.

CRIED FOUL

Tutui initially appeared at the tallying centre but left before long. He never returned. His supporters though remained, hopeful the spinning coin will turn in their favour.

Soon, Memusi would gain advantage, first skipping Tutui before disappearing on the horizon. The gap rose to 800 when votes from Ildamat Ward started coming in. Still, no one was sure he had won.

Tensions boiled as a dysfunctional cable blacked out the giant screen. ODM supporters cried foul, accusing IEBC of plotting to rig in the JAP. The screen was back on a few minutes later, but showing Tutui was cutting the lead again.

There were murmurs but Tutui never seemed to threaten Memusi’s lead again. Supporters remained quiet. Some JAP political leaders like Aden Duale, Kabando wa Kabando, Jamleck Kamau, Moses Kuria and Moses Ole Sakuda seemed to have read the sign on the screen. They left.

Only Katoo Ole Metito of Kajiado South remained with several members of the County Assembly.

But as the noise of jubilation grew and ODM supporters led by taunted JAP with chants of “Hiki kiti sio cha mama yako,” Mr Metito left conceding defeat as he rose. It was game over.

And hundreds of youth stormed the compound on motorbikes, celebrating the victory before forming a convoy to the town centre.

JAP has at least two years to regroup. Memusi says his first priority is to help the youth and women have income-generating projects and adds, “I am building my career in ODM.”